WIND OF CHANGE

European destinations experience a rocky ride in 2016

European destinations felt a wind of change during 2016 with fluctuating fortunes. In the Mediterranean, countries such as Spain and Portugal welcomed many more tourists from abroad while Britain enjoyed an increase of over 8% in international visitor numbers largely due to the weaker pound. But heavyweights such as Italy, Greece and Germany generated only low growth of 1-3%, according to World Travel Monitor figures. The big losers this year after suffering terror attacks were Turkey, France and Belgium.

These trends are also re ected in gures from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which show that growth in European tourism slowed last year following the various challenges that the continent’s tourism has recently faced. International arrivals grew by 1.6% between January and September 2016, according to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. This was signi cantly lower than the good growth of 4.6% seen in 2015 as a whole.

There was a diverse picture over the first nine months of 2016 in terms of sub-regions and individual destinations. Northern Europe (+6.4%) and Central and Eastern Europe (+5.3%) performed well, with double-digit increases in countries such as Hungary and Ireland, according to UNWTO figures. In contrast, results were weaker in Western Europe (-1.3%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+0.4%). Strong increases for major destinations such as Spain and Portugal were offset by weak results in France, Belgium and Turkey.

SHARING ACCOMMODATION STILL ONLY A SMALL SHARE OF MARKET

So-called “sharing” accommodation providers may be growing fast but they still have a relatively low share of the overall hospitality market in Europe. Their main impact is in cities where they generate significant numbers of visitors but also reduce residential accommodation, according to experts.

At the 24th World Travel Monitor Forum, attendees learned of trends concerning the so-called “sharing” economy, which has boomed in recent years with the rise of rms such as Airbnb that have disrupted the leisure accommodation sector.

However, they remain niche players, according to figures from the World Travel Monitor. In 2015, Europeans booked so-called “sharing” accommodation for 14 million outbound trips, which was a mere 3% of all their international trips. Nearly two thirds of these bookings were for apartments/ ats and holiday homes, while only about 15% were for private rooms or B&B stays.

“These apparently low figures may seem surprising considering how often ‘sharing’ companies make headlines about their dynamic growth, but they also show the sizeable future potential for these players,” commented Dr Martin Buck, Messe Berlin’s Senior Vice President.

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